Fire control centre scheme wasted £469m

Grant Prior 13 years ago
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More than £469m has been wasted on the disastrous FiReControl Project to replace 46 centres with nine new-build regional offices to house a national computer network for call-outs.

Watchdog MPs on the Public Accounts Committee have attacked the scheme as “one of the worst cases of project failure that the committee has seen in many years.”

The project was terminated after six-years last December because it was “flawed from the outset”

The MPs said unpopular changes were imposed on the fire and rescue service without consultation and the project was rushed into without establishing a basic procurement strategy.

Buildings were delivered on time but horrendous delays with the IT systems meant eight of the completed regional centres remain empty and are costing millions to maintain.

In a damning report released today, committee chair Margaret Hodge said: “The Department’s ambitious vision of abolishing 46 local fire and rescue control rooms around the country and replacing them with nine state of the art regional control centres ended in complete failure.

“The taxpayer has lost nearly half a billion pounds and eight of the completed regional control centres remain as empty and costly white elephants.

“The success of the so-called FiReControl project crucially turned on the cooperation of locally accountable and independent Fire and Rescue Services.

“The Department’s failure both to recognize this and try to ensure local buy-in fatally undermined the project from the start.

“The project was rushed, without proper understanding of costs or risks. The leadership relied far too much on external consultants and the frequent departures of senior staff also contributed to weak management and oversight of the project.

“The contract to implement a national IT system linking the control centres was not even awarded until a full three years after the project started.

“The contract itself was poorly designed and awarded to a company without relevant experience. The computer system was simply never delivered.

“No one has been held to account for this project failure, one of the worst we have seen for many years, and the careers of most of the senior staff responsible have carried on as if nothing had gone wrong at all and the consultants and contractor continue to work on many other government projects.”

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